Friday, June 14, 2013

Philbin pleased with DE Vernon's progression


The transition from Year 1 to Year 2 is arguably the most important step in a player's development in the NFL. (photo: June Rivera, Flickr)

With the grace period over, sophomore players are looked at with harsher criticism than they were as rookies and are expected to handle a more complex schematic and, hopefully, a heavier workload.

Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon is feeling that pressure now, and according to his head coach, he's handling it just fine.

"We’ve been moving the line a little bit more than we have in the past as an experiment and I think he’s caught on to okay," coach Joe Philbin told reporters at the conclusion of minicamp Thursday. "Where is my gap. Do I have to go down to the B gap or go all the way down to the A gap, and the corresponding technique that goes with those things. I think his pass responsibilities in the system that he has to use, I think he is better at.

"I think he is just a little more comfortable, a little more confident. He is playing a little faster."

That's what the Fins are hoping for, as the team lauds a defensive remodeling aimed at adding more bang to its mostly flat performance a year ago. Specifically, Miami will be looking to turn around its turnover plus/minus, which finished last year at -10. The team was only able to muster an average of one turnover a game, fifth-worst in the league. 

While Vernon did have his share of expected rookie inconsistencies in 2012, the former Hurricane still managed to put up some respectable numbers (3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, special teams touchdown). And with his continued work with big-play master Cameron Wake, along with his versatility across the defensive line, Philbin has been pleased with last year's third-round selection overall.

"The good thing about him is he can put his hand on the ground and he can function," Philbin said. "You can put him in a two-point stance and he can function and then as he grows as a player you can maybe move him around to a couple different spots and that creates what we call targeting issues for the offense and identification issues.

"So, I like what we see from him, no question.”

Follow Dan @DanBegnoche
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily